“Kind hearts are the gardens;
kind thoughts are the roots;
kind words are the flowers;
kind deeds are the fruits.”
Pink honeysuckle photographed in Spring Glen, New York, USA
Honeysuckles are arching shrubs or twining vines in the family Caprifoliaceae, native to the Northern Hemisphere. There are about 180 species of honeysuckle, 100 of which occur in China; Europe, India and North America have only about 20 native species each. Widely known species include Lonicera periclymenum (European Honeysuckle or Woodbine), Lonicera japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle, White Honeysuckle, or Chinese Honeysuckle) and Lonicera sempervirens (Coral Honeysuckle, Trumpet Honeysuckle, or Woodbine Honeysuckle). Hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers on some of these plants, especially L. sempervirens and L. ciliosa (Orange Honeysuckle).
The leaves are opposite, simple oval, 1–10 cm long; most are deciduous but some are evergreen. Many of the species have sweetly-scented, bell-shaped flowers that produce a sweet, edible nectar. Breaking of the Honeysuckle’s stem will release this powerful sweet odor. The fruit is a red, blue or black berry containing several seeds; in most species the berries are mildly poisonous, but a few (notably Lonicera caerulea) have edible berries. The plant is eaten by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species.
The name Lonicera stems from Adam Lonicer, a Renaissance botanist.
Several species of Lonicera have become invasive when introduced outside their native range, particularly in New Zealand and the United States. Invasive species include L. japonica, L. maackii, L. morrowii, and L. tatarica.